Last year I went to a writer’s conference and finally had all the inspiration I needed to keep working on a book I had started writing and actually finish it. This year I went to the same conference. My memoir was already written and this time I left inspired to read. When you are a writer who doesn’t yet actually write – that is, your head is full of ideas and your computer is full have half-begun chapters and stories and articles, then the question you will absolutely get asked at these things is, “What do you want to write?” And when you aren’t quite sure of the answer to that you will be asked, “Well, what do you like to read?” Well, it’s not so much that I didn’t know the answer to that question – it’s that I was too embarassed to confess that I would still rather read Anne of Green Gables than about any other book ever, except maybe its sequels. If I wanted to sound slightly more intellectual I could say Jane Austen (as in, everything she ever wrote? Not really – mostly just the three that became movies I like). So after this conference I knew for certain, I had to increase my library.
I feel I’ve failed miserably though. My answer to the question, “What do you want to write?” is still, “Um . . .well kind of . . .you know, like . . . .” I plan to keep reading. :-)
But in my head I know exactly what I want to write: I want to write characters and stories that people want to live with the way I can live with Anne. I like a good mystery and the extremely plot-driven stories. But when I reach for a favorite, it’s almost all about the character for me. I want to enjoy watching them move, hearing them think, seeing them discover the world around them and their place in it. I love reading from Austen’s era – the dresses! The food! The fact that they spent all day every day visiting each other! Love it. But I don’t want to write about her era. Then it’s historical fiction. Is there any way to make the feel of a good pair of blue jeans as appealing as pale green organza with ruffles at the shoulder and a flounce in the back? And more to the point: Is there any way to put all of that in a genre? I’m thinking “coming of age”. At least, I’m definitely going to say that instead of “Um, well, you know . . . .”